HP drops Windows Home Server "Vail"

HP drops Windows Home Server "Vail"

Summary: HP, which was one of Microsoft's premium partners for the Windows Home Server platform, has announced that it is to drop the platform and focus on webOS. This move come days after Microsoft announced it was dropping the popular Drive Extender feature from the next incarnation of the Home Server platform.


HP, which was one of Microsoft's premium partners for the Windows Home Server platform, has announced that it is to drop the platform and focus on webOS. This move come days after Microsoft announced it was dropping the popular Drive Extender feature from the next incarnation of the Home Server platform.

This from Microsoft's Windows Home Server blog:

You may have seen some blogs posts about HP’s decision announcing the retirement of their MediaSmart Server line, which includes Windows Home Server. As such, HP has told us they do not plan to provide a platform for Windows Home Server code name “Vail”. HP has told us they will continue to sell the existing version of MediaSmart Server through the end of the calendar year 2010 and will honor service and support agreements.

Was Microsoft's decision to drop Drive Extender the reason behind this? Not according to Microsoft:

This news is in no way related to recent announcements about feature changes in Windows Home Server “Vail.”

Allen Buckner, Marketing Manager for the former Home Server Group at HP, conforms this in an interview with MediaSmartServer.net, saying that the decision was down to "shifting additional resources to focus on webOS initiatives." In other words, HP doesn't feel that a home server needs to be encumbered by a $150 Windows OS.

Bottom line, while WHS has a band of loyal and fervent followers, the overall market for a home server can't be that big, especially given the proliferation of NAS boxes, cloud storage and USB drives these days. Windows Home Server was overkill, a sledgehammer to crack a nut, a solution to a problem that didn't really exist.

Things aren't looking good for Vail. Microsoft drops a popular feature, then Microsoft Press cancels an upcoming book on the OS, and now a premium partner pulls out.

Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Hardware, Operating Systems, Servers, Software, Windows

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  • Home server market isn't that big

    and they really don't advertise it. I wonder what took HP so long to discover most people are happy with just a computer, and some even go so far as to add an external backup!

    I can't see a webOS server selling any more, I wonder if it may sell even less?
    John Zern
    • Don't know why MSFT has many flavors of servers

      3 simple levels should be enough: Standard, Enterprise and Data Center.
      • What about desktops? Raofl nt

        Richard Flude
      • Re: Don't know why MSFT has so many flavors of servers


        Funny I do not know why there are so many flavors of Linux on either the desktop or server side of things. 4 versions of server with 3 aimed at enterprise/business and the other aimed at home and maybe small business is not that much. Same with the Desktop side. 1 version aimed at low power netbooks and the other 3 aimed at home and business/enterprise with a bit of overlap. Not that many if you think about it and it is not like they are mysteriously named.
    • Just the beginning

      These markets are particularly sensitive to price. Linux is dominating the appliance and embedded markets as a result of its royalty free option.

      Desktop market is more complicate, as it's dominated by interoPerability and applications. MS is stuck with its profitable windows and office lines, deminishing share of total consumer IT spend.
      Richard Flude
  • To be honest

    WHS never really took off to begin with.

    And honestly, I have been using 2008 R2 at home with no problems.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Indeed.

      @Cylon Centurion 0005 Why would anyone use WHS anyway? Its like installing a non-Ultimate version of Windows... Im also using 2008 R2 and it works like a charm.
      Tommy S.
      • I'll answer your question

        @Tommy S.
        [i]Why would anyone use WHS anyway?[/i]

        My first WHS was a DIY and I agree with you, I wasn't totally sold. Then I bought my HP MediaSmart WHS and it totally changed my mind.

        WHS is an OS that was never meant to be sold as an OS on a disc, it was meant to be sold as part of a hardware appliance. So for Cdn$400, I got a very small, nearly silent HP server with 4 hot swappable drive bays (one with a 1TB HD) that open from the front and require absolutely no screws to add / remove drives. Without turning off my server, I can open the front of the server, pull out the HD caddy, pop an HD into it, and slide it back in and start using it about 1 minute later without partitioning, no new drive letters, no allocating space to different shares. In 2 minutes, you've added 2TBs to your pool of storage.

        There is no monitor port, just a network port and 100% of the configuration is performed via web browser (though you can RDP in if you really want to). While MS has made fantastic strides with remote management of their server OSs (to the point where Server 2008 Core is meant to be 100% remotely managed), all of this "Just Works" out of the box with WHS.

        I have thankfully never needed to do this but if something goes wrong with the server, you pop the recovery disk into a computer on the network (MediaSmart has no DVD drive), run the recovery software, reboot the WHS in recovery mode (there is a hardware button for this on the MediaSmart), the recovery software detects the WHS in recovery mode on the network, and starts fixing it.

        Now, if all of this sounds like Drobo, you are right. I was about to buy a Drobo after trying WHS on my DIY computer. A friend of mine suggested I at least look at the HP MediaSmart and I found that it was about the same price as the Drobo but the Drobo had no network connectivity (this is an add-on I would have to buy), no integrated backup / restore system, no remote connectivity, and no possibility of ever being used as anything other than a Drobo (WHS is still a Windows Server 2003 under the hood, allowing you to run any server service you choose from your WHS).

        It's funny because people accuse MS of copying Apple all the time with Windows or Zune or WP7 but I would say that WHS was MS's most Apple like product. Absolutely everything about WHS was designed to "Just Work" right out of the box and MS totally succeeded in achieving that goal. And all of this [b]before[/b] Time Capsule came out.

        So that is why *I* use WHS. It truly was a "fire-and-forget" purchase. I opened the box, plugged the MediaSmart into the wall, hooked up a network cable, went through a small configuration process on my desktop (to name the WHS and to add me as a user) and WHS was running.
      • RE: HP drops Windows Home Server

        @Tommy S. <br><br>Have you seen it in action? My brother and a few friends have a WHS currently and using the easy to use media management and the convenience of centrally storage of that media and files and the ability to backup all my computers with a few clicks and having all that data accessible virtually everywhere is Awesome. I am eagerly awaiting WHS-2 or Vail as I will build myself one when it is released. <br><br>Its not for everybody but is not intended to compete with MS Server 2008 offerings. It is a different animal all together.
  • RE: HP drops Windows Home Server

    HP is just eating its own dog food so its no surprise they dropped WHS. That's ok because there will be other OEMs to pick up the slack.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: HP drops Windows Home Server

      @Loverock Davidson No, Windows Server will be left holding their own dog food...this was a stupid move on Microsoft's part and they know it.

      Enjoy another failure.
      • They'll get over this failure

        just as your parents did with you, cyberslammer2 ;)
        John Zern
      • RE: HP drops Windows Home Server

        @cyberslammer2 No for Microsoft it was a good move, for their customers who use WHS it was not. So they are dumping a very niche product to focus on other more profitable things.

        Microsoft has a lock on Desktop PC OS Market and this will keep them very profitable
      • RE: HP drops Windows Home Server

        @John Zern Burger Flipper, yep, my parents are so disappointed in me I'm such a failure....thank goodness I had enough money to replace all their windows on their house for an anniversary present....paid cash..

        Yes, I'm a total failure, making six figures a year sucks so bad. Damn me.
      • Don't you mean


        It was a stupid move on HPs part? After all they are the ones dropping the product line for their WebOS they purchased from Palm. WHS is a great product that was not properly marketed. Maybe that is because WHS was kind of a test run and despite it not being widely adopted I think it went very well because all I hear about it is good things from the people that have one and from my experience using my brothers and my friends it has been very good indeed. IMO WHS is a perfect addition for households with 2 or more PCs that have media and files to store and share and went them highly accessible. They can also back up their individual PCs and in the event of failure such as a hard drive going out of if they want to upgrade that hard drive they can be back online with their computer like nothing ever happened in a few clicks.
  • Not just Vail. The current version too:

    "In what can only be considered hugely disappointing and quite possibly a significant blow to the future of Windows Home Server, Hewlett Packard has informed me that they have discontinued the MediaSmart Server and will not be releasing any more models either on the [b]current version[/b] of Windows Home Server or the upcoming Vail platform."

    • It truly is sad

      The sad thing is that while people are running around trying to manage backups and folders on multiple external hard drives from multiple desktops and laptops, they could have spent a tiny bit more and gotten a real solution. Yet again though, you would never know about this fine product unless, like me, a friend told you about it.
      • RE: HP drops Windows Home Server


        And I think you hit the nail on the head. It is definitely something that was not advertised and only the computer enthusiasts really knew about it and it only spread by word of mouth. I was skeptical at first too until I saw what it could do in terms of simple management. Easy enough for the average computer user but powerful enough for the computer enthusiasts that can use a server without breaking the bank. For $99 it was a good deal. What does server 2008 STD cost? $600?
  • I doubt you've tried it

    The automatic backup feature of WHS was *very* easy to use and for me it has been fully reliable. I think it could have been a "killer feature" with just a bit more polish and a LOT more advertising. But, as usual, Microsoft flushes yet more money down the drain. Aside from XBox, name a successful new product they've developed in the past 10 years that ISN'T named Windows or Office.
    • WHS restore is fantastic

      [i]The automatic backup feature of WHS was *very* easy to use and for me it has been fully reliable.[/i]

      A few months ago I bought a new HD for my desktop and it failed about 2 weeks later. Exchanged it for a new one, installed it, booted of the restore disc (boots the desktop into Windows PE), it found my WHS on the network, asked which date I wanted to restore from, I selected it, and 30 minutes later, my desktop was fully restored, no need to reinstall any programs, change any settings, etc.

      Brilliant. Easy. Beats anything else on the market.